Allrecipes is an amazing resource for many things. There are the recipes, of course, but it is also a fantastic portrait of what people are eating and how they are thinking about the joys and challenges of daily cooking. The author of a recent article in Slate declares it “perhaps the most accurate, democratic snapshot of American culinary desires.” What I love about it is both this archival quality and the evidence it gives us for what goes on in a person’s mind when they read a recipe. There are of course millions of those dead-end “this looks/sound delicious” comments that tell us that even a recipe without an image . draws on the appetite. What seems also to be going on in these comments is a need to be acknowledged as a person who sees the promise in the words, someone who might cook them up. That cooking up can bring the reader tangentially into community with the writer.
And then, best of all, is the tinkering. All of the adjustments and questions and suggestions. Perhaps it’s particularly American or modern to believe we have the authority to change the recipe at will, but I suspect it reveals more a more timeless truth that no one ever anywhere always followed the recipe.